By JIM REEVES
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
CANTON, Ohio -- We all know that there's no cheering in the press box. Today is a good day to let you in on another little secret: there's no crying in the press box, either.
That's a shame, because Saturday was a good day for tears.
Tears of joy, tears of remembrance, tears of relief at expectations fulfilled and adversity overcome, tears of triumph, and even tears for what might have been.
Emotions ran close to the surface Saturday for the six new members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, none more so than Troy Aikman.
"He didn't think he was going to be able to get through it," his mother, Charlyn, said after Aikman's acceptance speech finally concluded the 4 1/2 -hour sun-baked ceremony at 22,000-seat Fawcett Stadium, alongside the Hall of Fame.
The quick and easy impression of Aikman during his amazing 12-year career with the Cowboys was that he was not only as efficient as a robot, but just about as cold and emotional-less as a hunk of steel, and wires and microchips, too.
Batter him, knock him unconscious, split his chin wide open, didn't matter. You couldn't get a reaction from him.
He was as stoic and demonstrative as a basset hound on Valium.
It was only a facade, of course. Beneath that veneer of stoicism lies an emotional, sensitive and passionate man.
Saturday, as he thanked former Cowboys offensive coordinator Norv Turner, his presenter, and called him "the big brother I never had," as he acknowledged his Cowboys teammates of the 1990s, his coaches and especially his family, Aikman's voice shook with the emotion he has tried so hard to keep buried.
"He showed unbelievable emotion, and I knew it would be that way," Turner said. "He cares so much. He cares more about being great than anyone I've ever known.
"If they hadn't put a limit on how much time we had, I was going to get into that part of him. He is so different from the perception. The emotional part of it helped him to not only bring out the best in himself, but his teammates, too. He not only drove himself, he drove everyone around him."
They saved Aikman for last Saturday for a reason. It kept the crowd, liberally sprinkled with fans decked out in Cowboys jerseys, around until the end.
Aikman was worth waiting for, of course. As usual, he delivered in the clutch.
Turner told the crowd that he was recently asked who he would want to be his quarterback if he had one game to coach.
Aikman, he said without hesitation.
Why, the interviewer asked.
"Because I want to win," Turner replied.
Winning, more than anything, is why Aikman was here Saturday. Winning defined his career.
"If you look at Troy's greatest plays, they came in the most critical situations, they came against the best teams and they came in the playoffs," Turner pointed out. "He was one of the most unselfish players who ever played.
"In an era of super egos, he never let his get in the way of winning. Super Bowls were more important than statistics."
There were whispers that the reason Jimmy Johnson wasn't here was that he was miffed that Aikman hadn't asked him to be his presenter. I doubt that's true, but in any case, Johnson sent his regrets and both Turner and Aikman acknowledged the vital role Jimmy played in the Cowboys' resurrection in the '90s.
"I thought it was Troy's drive along with Jimmy Johnson's leadership that accounted for the [Cowboys'] worst-to-first [turnaround]," Turner said.
Some coaches play not to lose, Aikman said during his 20-minute speech. "Jimmy always played to win. Some guard against overconfidence. Jimmy insisted on it.
"He was the right coach at the right time for the Dallas Cowboys, and I was fortunate to play for him."
Surprisingly, Aikman's speech was the most emotional of the afternoon, but there were many, many poignant moments.
How could you not get a lump in your throat to hear Harry Carson's son, Donald, who is suffering from aplastic anemia, tell about the time when he was in the hospital getting treatment and his dad drove from Maryland to Savannah, Ga., just to feed his son's fish?
Or watching the tears run down Rayfield Wright's cheeks as he told his 87-year-old mother, "Mom, you are my rose garden. You watered me each day with your love, with your faith and with your prayers."
John Madden compared what he was feeling to the time he was carried off the field on the shoulders of his players after winning Super Bowl XI. "Yet, instead of off the field, it's into the Hall of Fame. Instead of five or six guys today, I ride on the shoulders of hundreds of friends, coaches, players, colleagues, family."
And perhaps the most poignant moment of all, when the late Reggie White's son, Jeremy, presented his mom, Sara, to accept his father's award and the two of them fell into each other's arms, sobbing, and almost couldn't let go.
On this day, Aikman had to feel right at home.
Me? I bought tickets for my wife and I in the infield and took it all in from there instead of the press box.
It was a good day to sit in the sun, and if it was so bright it made my eyes water from time to time...well, nobody out there seemed to care.